Sports Leagues Figure Out Build It Online, And They Will Come

from the somebody's-paying-attention dept

We’ve mentioned several times about how sports leagues are trying to crack down on unauthorized web streams of their games. It’s a misguided effort that fails to recognize the opportunity here: people watch these streams because they generally don’t have other options. Largely, they’re not cheapskate pirates, but underserved customers. With that in mind, it was nice to see a story in the WSJ a few days back talking about how some American leagues’ subscription streaming services are enjoying success. They’ve figured out that by offering users a better service than the pirate streams, they can get them to pay subscription fees. This gets to the heart of so many different industries’ battles against piracy: it’s not a technological problem that exists because there are inadequate locks for content, it’s a business problem that exists because many companies are too complacent to develop services that deliver consumers content they want in a format they desire.

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Comments on “Sports Leagues Figure Out Build It Online, And They Will Come”

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Weird Harold (user link) says:

It’s a potential business, but there is little proof that the general public is willing to pull out the cash to pay.

Acceptable streaming rates with the current level of advertising isn’t a profitable business model. Adding a few dozen to a few hundred extra viewers doesn’t create any new ad income, those sorts of numbers would be a rounding error in ratings. However, each of those streaming users has a clear and definable costs in bandwidth, equipment, staffing, etc.

It might work out for organizations that can extract a decent amount (say a couple of dollars per game) from a large enough group of people to split out the staffing costs, but it is never going to be a great sustitution. Those people who are use to “FREE!” service aren’t going to be lining up to drop $50 a season to see 20 games online. Otherwise, it would be cheaper for the teams to give away free TV tuner usb keys for those few users to have to catch the tv broadcasts at work.

Business opportunities always have to have the potential of a payout in the end. The internet so far is proving to be much too expensive a medium to individual-cast on, especially a product that is so well done in the broadcast format.

Maybe 10 years from now, but for today, it’s not really financially viable.

PRMan (profile) says:

The package is the problem

I really don’t want to pay $150 for a whole season (or $80 for a half-season) of hockey. But I wouldn’t mind AT ALL to pay $2 per game online (or even $3).

If I am watching online, it’s because my other options are not available FOR THAT GAME AND THAT GAME ONLY. I am not going to watch 82 games online, so stop pricing it like that is somehow a reality, NHL.

I admit, I have caught some “alternative streams” at times, because, like you say, I am an underserved customer. If it were priced and packaged appropriately, NHL.TV would be my first stop.

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